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How To Make Your 2 Stroke Dirt Bike Start Easier

Need to know how to make your 2 stroke dirt bike start easier? Whether it’s hot, cold, or been sitting in storage, these tips that I still use today are sure to make your life and riding more enjoyable. 

It all starts with proper technique, but there’s some things on your bike that can be tuned to make it start even easier.

How to properly start a 2 stroke dirt bike

Most 2 stroke dirt bikes are easier to start than a 4 stroke dirt bike because they don’t have as much compression. Compression is simply felt as the amount of resistance you feel when you turn the engine over with the kick start lever.

The Yamaha YZ125 is one of the easiest 2 stroke dirt bikes to kick start

However, there’s still a simple routine that I do when starting any 2 stroke dirt bike to make it easier and to prevent any damage.

Here’s my routine to properly start a 2 stroke dirt bike:

  1. Mix up the gas in the tank by rocking the bike forwards/backwards or side-to-side
  2. Turn on the gas
  3. Turn on the choke
  4. Get on the bike where you can get the max leverage with your right leg
  5. Slowly kick the kickstart lever down to make sure the engine properly turns over
  6. Bring the lever up and then rest your foot on it with the slightest pressure
  7. Use your body weight and leverage to give a full kick to the lever
  8. Once start, allow the kick start level to return and fold it back in

Keeping pressure on the lever before going to kick start it will help prevent any internal damage to the kick start gears.

How to start a 2 stroke after sitting in storage for months

Whether you live up north like me and have to park your dirt bike for a few months, or you simply haven’t had time to ride, it’s common to have problems starting it again after it’s been sitting.

Why? Mainly because the fuel breaks down and it starts to gum up the jets and passages in the carburetor. One little spec sticking in the pilot jet circuit could cause your 2 stroke to not start.

So, what do you do?

Quickest option

It may just be some dirty gas that won’t combust in the engine. The first thing you should try is draining the gas that’s in the carb float bowl. If it has a quick-drain screw, just use that; make sure to turn off the gas/petcock valve or there will be more fuel on the ground than you expected!

Getting rid of any crud or sediment may be all it needed. I always recommend using fresh gas and a proper oil mix ratio.

Next best option

The next quickest route to get your 2 stroke to start after it’s been sitting can be done with the carb on the bike still.

Just loosen the carb clamp screws and rotate the carb so that you can access the float bowl screws. Take the float bowl off and spray carb cleaner into the jets. Letting them soak may help break up the gunk enough to get it started.

Ultimate option

If all else fails and you know the carb is the culprit because it starts with starting fluid in the cylinder, then you need to take the carb off. I take out all the jets and soak them in my ultrasonic cleaner. It’s not that hard, especially if the carb is easy to remove from your dirt bike. I haven’t had this option fail me yet.

Best tips for storing your 2 stroke dirt bike to prevent problems:

  • Use non-oxygenated gas (lasts longer before breaking down)
  • Keep the gas tank full (less moisture can be absorbed)
  • Keep the carb full of fuel (especially if you’re in a dry climate)
  • Don’t start the bike until you’re actually going to ride it

2 stroke hard to start when cold

Any gas engine is going to be harder to start when it’s colder, but you may have some things working against you. First, make sure you’re using the choke with a cold engine and that it’s functioning properly. 

Jetting is often the biggest factor. The cooler air changes the air-fuel ratio. This just means that you need more fuel for your bike to start and run well.

How do you do that? A quick adjustment of the air screw may be all it needs. If that isn’t enough, then you will need to go to a richer/bigger size pilot jet.

2 stroke hard to start when hot

Maybe your 2 stroke dirt bike starts easy when the engine is cold, but it’s hard to start when it’s hot after riding for a while. This is also likely due to poor jetting.

A “band-aid” fix that will help is to hold the throttle wide open when you kick start it. This lets more air in to essentially lean out the mixture enough to get it started.

However, a more permanent fix that will give you easier starts when hot is adjusting the air screw or pilot jet. It’s too rich, so you need to lean it out or go smaller.

2 Stroke won’t start with starting fluid

Still struggling to get your bike started after cleaning the carb and trying starting fluid? There’s a good chance that fuel isn’t the problem. You need to check for air and spark.

If it’s not getting one of these, then your 2 stroke dirt bike is never going to start.

How to start without kick start

Maybe your kick starter is broke or not working anymore. You can bump start or push start it to get the engine fired. I don’t recommend this as a long-term option for starting your 2 stroke dirt bike. This should only be used for emergencies. 

I’m not saying that it’s bad or hard on your bike, but it may not always be easy or practical to push start it. For example, being stuck in the mud out in the middle of nowhere…

How to unflood a 2 stroke

Fall in the drink with your dirt bike? A 2 stroke dirt bike can generally be “unflooded” more easily than a 4 stroke. You have to drain all of the water from the engine, pipe, carb, and air box before trying to start it again.

How to ride a 2 stroke dirt bike

Riding a 2 stroke requires a little more clutch control, shifting, and getting used to the powerband. It also depends on which 2 stroke bike you’re on.

A smaller bike requires you to be more aggressive and have more control because they don’t have much bottom-end power, making it feel like bogging before it hits the powerband.

I’m better at off-road trail riding, so if you want to learn proper techniques to stay in control off-road then start here.

How to quickly get easier starts and more power from your 2 stroke

Okay, so by now you should know that proper jetting is important for many reasons. If you want to learn how to do it – even if you’ve never touched a carb before – click here and I’ll show you.